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Tokyo Police Club – From a Simple Fan to an End of a Spark


Tokyo Police Club – From a Simple Fan to an End of a Spark

Tokyo Police Club is an indie rock band out of Newmarket, Ontario. Their sound has encapsulated many to proactively find out who these guys are, including myself. They aren’t my ideal genre, but I’m not a fan of genres’, I’m a fan of good music; and their music rocks.

I first heard their songs through Facebook posts and through friends who were big fans of them as well. Not much gets me into indie rock, but these guys broke the barrier with the syncopated beat of “Bambi”, their most recent single, which is very different than any song that I have heard. It definitely got me more interested in them.

Being that ATX Music Mag is part of the press now, we were able to get their most recent album “Champ” for free from TPC’s press, so we could jam it before the show. (A pretty cool perk). I was also fortunate to get an interview set up with Tokyo Police Clubs drummer, Greg Alsop. When I showed up to La Zona Rosa for the interview on the day of the show (2/2/2011), I was told by one of the staff to wait out in the large empty concert hall, because Tokyo Police Club was busy doing something at the moment.

As I was sitting by myself in the concert hall, I heard some tunes being played backstage. I was very skeptical at first of whether it was Tokyo Police Club or not. After waiting a while, I clearly heard the chords for “End of a Spark” being played. After jamming the comped album countless times, that preceded the rest as my favorite song, and they were playing it. As I got closer to the music, one of Tokyo Police Clubs staff passed by, and told me I could go back to check it out. I came to find out that they were filming a music video for “End of a Spark”, and I was lucky to catch it. I was supposed to be having the interview with Alsop at the time, but I didn’t mind waiting at all. It was a pleasure to be able to sit there and watch these guys jam out one of my favorite songs of theirs backstage before the show.

Video provided by The Kiyanna Project

After the video session was done, I got to meet up with Greg Alsop for the interview. Tokyo Police Club have played some of the largest festivals in the world like Bonaroo and Glastonbury Fest just to name a couple; and when I talked to Alsop, he seemed very humble and appreciative for what the band has accomplished so far. One difference from playing large festivals and other shows like at Austin’s La Zona Rosa was that, “festivals are all about winning over a new audience, and for shows like La Zona Rosa, we are playing for our fans and are more in our comfort zone”, stated Alsop. This gave me a good feeling about the show that was about to ensue that night.

The show turned out to be a great one. It was definitely one of the best indie shows that I’ve been to. They played songs ranging from their earliest EP “A Lesson in Crime” to their most recent hit-filled album, “Champ”. It was a show for their fans as Alsop had previously stated, whether they were old or new ones.

Tokyo Police Club caters to a large music demographic, incorporating alternative, pop, and just plain rock. If I had to give you one piece of advice, I would recommend you buy their most recent album “Champ”, and check them out the next time they are in town… if you like good music that is. They are still a young band on the uprising and we look forward to their next upcoming album.

Greg Alsop Interview

What did yall first get noticed? What was the turning point?

We submitted our demo to the Pop Montreal Festival right before we left to school. They accepted us to one of the showcases over there. We all stayed in Daves tiny dorm room… rehearsed there for three days during the day whenever the resident advisors would let us and no one would complain. We got the attention of this band magneta lane who’s was on a small indie label in Toronto … called paper bag record … It just kind of took off from there … Dave and I came home for the Christmas holidays and told our parents that we were leaving school at least for a while to try and see where this all goes and luckily, it worked out.

Which rock stars were your idols while growing up?

Well personally, smashing pumpkins that was the number one influence for me … , Other rock bands of the mid-90’s like Green Day, Foo Fighters … I think we kind of bonded over the bands that emerged in 2001 right when that new kind of scene of music was starting to get mainstream attention like The Strokes, The Vines, The Hives… they had them all play at the Grammys that year … It was just like perfectly encapsulating.

What is one rock band that you wish you could play with?

I would love to do a tour with The Strokes. We‘ve played before them at festivals. But if we could do a tour, that would be like a huge checkmark on my list.

How does playing Bonaroo differ from playing smaller venues like La Zona Rosa?

Festivals are all kind of about winning over a new audience. So you kind of have to work for it a little bit more … you kind of need to make your show a little more of like a spectacle and undeniable to people. They are very different beasts.

How is your fanbase different from Canada and the U.S.?

Well in Canada, we do have that mainstream success and we have radio support in all the major markets in Canada. And it’s easier for bands like us to get that in Canada because we have Canadian content regulations where each station needs to play like 35% or so of Canadian music within their entire programming schedule…. So being a Canadian band, they kind of have to support us a little bit more which works out very well for us.

How was the launch of Elephant Shell different from Champ?

I feel that we didn’t have that initial momentum and buzz that we had built off the EP the first time around that we had with Elephant Shell. With Elephant Shell, people were really ready to compare it to that 16 minute EP we had done it 2006… it really kind of felt like make or break. Especially just with ourselves. I think we felt a lot more pressure with Elephant Shell to like make everything count. And if it didn’t work, who knows? Maybe we couldn’t be a band anymore. And I feel like the fact that we came out on the other side of that release still together, still being able to write music, still being able to release records, it kind of gave us the confidence to do whatever we wanted to do…. We were more able to just try new things with the writing, the production, work with a different label, maybe go for some of that radio success in the states.

The name of the new album is Champ. Is that subliminal to saying that this album is pretty kick ass or what?

(laughs) It’s kind of a bold statement, ya! I feel like it’s a little more of an affectionate nickname for that group of songs. Like kind of like how an older brother would call ya “Hey Champ”… This is kind of our little brother.

Who writes most of the music?

Dave writes all of the lyrics … so the ideas for the songs come from him. Then we all arrange it and figure out the best way to represent those songs. It’s a democratic process.

As a drummer, do you have input in some of the songs?

Ya, definitely! There are certain songs that I’ve definitely directed the feel for like Breakneck Speed. It started out like double the tempo … When we started writing that song, we had just finished a tour with Weezer and I had been listening to that slower like moodier 90’s rock bands … So we were jamming that song out, and I just halved the tempo I guess and … It added an atmosphere around it and it just stuck and it worked. We had never written a song like that.

What do you think of Austin?

I love Austin! It’s too bad that we came here during this winter storm … The best time we got to just hang out here was last year. Our manager had his bachelor party here so we actually got to hang out in the city … that was amazing … We were here right at the beginning of September and we got to see the season opener of UT football and we tailgated for the first time … We have great memories of Austin!

Being that you’re the oldest in the group, has there ever been a time where you had to look over the others?

Well, in America, there were a few years where I had to buy everyone drinks and alcohol for everyone else. I made sure everyone was well lubricated before they got on stage. I don’t drink before I play … I think there were times, especially when we were first starting out to just like get over the nerves of getting on stage, maybe have a beer or two before getting on stage. That was my role for a while. (laughs)

Why the name Tokyo Police Club?

No good reason…. I wasn’t even part of naming it. I was in school at the time in the university, and they were all going on a trip to Chicago together for a school music trip … those music trips leave like at 5 in the morning on Friday mornings to get the most out of it … so I’m in university, and the Thursdays are kind of like the Fridays, and so I had gone out the night before and they called me at 7 in the morning from their trip and they called and were like “Hey Greg, we’ve got the band name, lets name it Tokyo Police Club” and I was like… ‘Yes’, and turned over and went back to sleep … It actually came from the song lyrics before anything else.

by: Jeremy Davis

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Editor at ATX Music Mag DJ/Producer at J3RM

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